Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

Day 1 of the $15 challenge 

Breakfast wasn’t too bad. I had plain oats: no milk (couldn’t afford it), and no water in the end, because I didn’t want to dilute the flavour of the oats as I figured I’d have enough blandness for the week to come. I think it actually worked out kinda well, and this is going to sound a bit gross, but keeping the oats in my mouth a bit longer allowed saliva to break it down a bit more, and it started to get a bit of a sweet taste. Plus, it took me longer to eat it this way, so there was less time between meals, which I figured would be a good thing. I was disappointed, as breakfast is the meal I look forward to the most.

Lunch was miserable. I had stayed up pretty late the night before, so I wanted to go home early. I ended up working through lunch so that I could leave a bit earlier, but that meant eating at my desk. I didn’t even end up finishing my lunch in the end. It was like my stomach closed up shop and said, “Nope, I’ll have no more of that, thank you very much.” The damper was quite nice though.

Dinner fared much better, as I played while working on some other things, reading reddit, and chatting with the Dota crew.

I made it through the day! Stomach didn’t grumble. 6 more to go.

Day 2

I had a barre class after work, so I put some extra oats in for my breakfast to try and help tide myself over for a late dinner. I had learned my lesson from day 1, and thought I’d chill with Special K for lunch, as it would help take my mind off eating beans, but I had forgotten that she was away on training. Fortunately, Michael didn’t have plans, and it really did make eating bland food that much easier, as lunch flew by, and before I knew it, my container was empty. Something that I will have to write about later, but my last experiment seemed to show that good company seems to be what most people think enhances the dining experience the most.

I made it through barre class, but it was a struggle – as it usually is. My stomach was grumbling as I made my way home, but it was OK, as I was about to eat dinner. Again, dinner went by as I was focused on something else.

Day 3

We are getting to more TMI about my digestive habits, but I am actually quite regular, in the sense that I can pretty much narrow down when Number 2 will come calling down to a one-hour window, and it happens every day. By the end of day 3 of the challenge, I was becoming quite concerned as I hadn’t even gone once. Special K was still on training, so I had my sad lunch at the desk again, but I distracted myself by going for a run around the CBD trying to find pictures of the BolArt around the place.

I had to finish cooking the rest of the stuff I hadn’t cooked on Sunday, and hit my first snag: the dough I had made for the damper and left in the fridge had some black specks in it. Were they there before? Was it normal? Was it mould? It smelled OK, and didn’t look to be growing or anything. I didn’t have any chickpeas left to make aquafaba, and not enough flour to make another lot of dough, so it was this or nothing. I decided to go with it, and if I felt sick the next day, use the rest of the flour a bit earlier than I had expected, make filo pastry (flour, oil, water, I’d skip the salt), and just eat that by itself.

Day 4

I was still feeling sore from barre class. Normally I’ll feel a bit sore the day after, but be mostly recovered by the next day. Today, I was just as sore as I had been yesterday, though Brianna worked us really hard, so it’s hard to say whether it was because of the diet, or because I was genuinely sore. I was supposed to do another class tonight, but I ended up cancelling.

Special K was away sick, so I ended up eating alone again. I’ve started to feel a bit blocked up. Mr Number 2 finally visited, but it was a lot smaller than I expected – maybe less of my food is “waste”, so there’s less to get rid of? But my stomach started to feel uncomfortable, but not due to hunger, as I didn’t feel hungry. It’s hard to describe.

This day was tough, because it was the free fries day, but my willpower held strong, and I stayed with my $15 food.

I think the damper was OK. I did feel a bit strange, but not sick or anything, so it could have been psychological. Besides, only 3 more days to go – I can do it!

Day 5

Last day of doing this at work. At least during the weekend, I can fill up on oats if I feel like a snack.

Met up with Pharmacist for lunch, except it wasn’t really for lunch, as I sat there and watched him eat food like the creeper that I am (he didn’t ask me to leave, so I’ll take that as implied consent). I ate my beans and veggies at my desk beforehand, so I wouldn’t be tossing up whether to stab him in the stomach for his spaghetti or not – it was Lygon St, after all, wouldn’t be completely out of place.

Around mid-afternoon, I started to feel it. Lightheaded-ness, and a weird pain around my heart. I went to get another glass of water, but it didn’t really help. As sad as it made me feel, I made the ultimate decision to call it quits. I know everyone thinks I’m crazy for doing things like this, but I do know when to be reasonable, and I think this situation called for it.

I ended up going to Grill’d for dinner and eating a beef burger and sweet potato chips with MrFodder. It was a later dinner than I normally had, and I was so hungry that I completely forgot to take a photo of it for today’s post until it was nearly gone.

—————————

I’m still not entirely sure what brought it on. I checked out the stats for the things I had: I covered the important stuff: carbs, protein, maybe not as much fat as I should have, but I didn’t think it would have an effect in a week. There was no sugar, but there are heaps of people who cut out sugar from their diets, and they seemed fine. Black beans are actually a great source of iron, and I had the capsicums for vitamin C. MrFodder said sodium, and I will admit that there was barely any sodium, which might be why. He also said that it might just be my body finally reacting to the shock of the sudden change in diet. The first few days, it might have reacted by draining the reserves I had stocked, so it put up with it, but by day 4, it was starting to struggle.

I probably also should have gone into low-energy mode, and not done things like barre, or running around as much as I did.

Throughout the challenge, the only time I really felt hungry was before dinner – which I think is actually a good thing, as eating when you’re hungry, as opposed to eating when the time of day is X, is probably a better way to approach eating. One positive is that I’ve come to appreciate the tastes a bit more, and with the second batch of food, I was a bit more careful about browning the onions for maximum flavour. Something that doesn’t matter so much when you can add meat, which has that dominant “meat”flavour that can mask the flavour of the other things.

I’ve gone back to eating regular food… or at least I’m trying. Even after eating the burger last night, I felt incredibly bloated, and almost felt like throwing up. Cycling from extremes of eating isn’t really a good idea! Hopefully I’ll be good as new before we leave for Fiji.

This sounds cliché, but the world actually felt really grey and bland the past week. I think if anything, I’ve come to realise that I really enjoy eating food, and it plays a big part in my life and my happiness. If I really did have to eat like this, I would probably give up other things first – like my phone, entertainment, etc., just so that I could buy things like spices to make it taste better. I guess that was the slightly unrealistic part in this – if we were to both suddenly go broke, we’d still have all the things that we have in our pantry now, including flour, sugar, salt, oil. Sure, we’d have to restock eventually, but it wouldn’t be all at once. It is a bit sad how tough it is to get started: even a little jar of some of the most common herbs and spices can cost quite a lot, and it would take up a long time to save up enough money to build a decent collection of them.

I have decided that if I did have to redo this, the first thing I’d pick up would be some paprika or some pepper. After buying some salt, of course. Maybe I should have been a bit more inventive and gone to the beach and boiled some water for salt. MrFodder said I probably should have had more tap water, and not the filtered water we have in the office – which he did mention before I started, but I forgot.

I think it’d also be a bit easier if I could have butter, as you can buy a block of butter for less than I paid for oil, and butter also has a lovely flavour that it adds to foods that canola oil doesn’t really do. Eggs were also something I was considering. I’m sad about how little tofu I got to eat as part of the challenge, but sometimes you have to make tough life choices.

I’m also incredibly grateful of the people who offered to buy me food while I was doing this. I know it’s not a long-term solution, but it was touching to see the number of people who would be willing to lend a hand if required.

Which brings me to what made me decide to accept IP’s challenge. A friend of mine recently told me that not long ago, he was barely scraping by. He was eating on roughly the amount I spent on food, and hid it from all of his friends. I felt pretty terrible. Here I am, with my “challenge” to spend $400 a month, and he’s starving himself.

It makes me feel like I should be more extensive with my charity. I spend so much time and energy on things like finding the best cookie recipe. I think if I were to do something, I’d probably create a Spice program or something like that – where I’d sell smaller packets of spices, making it much easier for someone to get started on the journey of making their food taste better. I probably won’t actually do it though, as I’m lazy.

Challenge result: FAILURE

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